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Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith

Spirit Laws Lawyers in Northern Kentucky

Helping Businesses Navigate Kentucky’s Liquor License Laws

Introducing alcohol sales can help you bring more customers into your establishment, driving business and profits. But the rules surrounding obtaining and maintaining your liquor license in Kentucky are complex. It’s important to ensure that you understand the liquor laws and how they apply to your business to avoid penalties and even potentially losing your license.

Reviewing the liquor license requirements, completing your application, and following up for renewal takes a lot of time out of your already busy schedule as a business owner. Get help with every step, from application to renewal, when you work with the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC.

How Does a Business Apply for a Liquor License?

If you want to manufacture, sell, or distribute alcohol as part of your business offerings, you’ll need the appropriate licenses. Keep in mind that there are dozens of different liquor licenses that can be issued by the state of Kentucky, and each one applies to a specific situation. It’s very likely that you will need more than one license, and an attorney can help you identify which licenses you need to apply for.

To begin the process, you will need to submit an application to the Kentucky Department of Alcoholic & Beverage Control. This department coordinates with the local government to identify which licenses you need to operate in your city. You are required to post a notice in the newspaper that your business is requesting a liquor license so that anyone who wants to object has a chance to do so. If the license is approved, you will need to pay the fee, which can range from a few hundred to more than a thousand dollars.

What Happens If There Is an Objection to the License Application?

Many businesses believe that the newspaper notice and waiting period are only technical requirements, and they don’t expect residents to actually object to the business getting a liquor license. However, this is more common than you may think. A business that operates near a school, church, or similar organization may face a greater likelihood of objections.

In general, residents have 30 days from the date of the notice to present their objections, and they must do so in writing to the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. The department will review the objection to determine if it has any merit and whether it should impact the decision to grant the license. Having an attorney involved in this process can ensure that you have legal representation who can act quickly to address any objections.

How Often Does a Liquor License Need to Be Renewed?

In general, liquor licenses must be renewed every year. You can generally renew your license online through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control. Renewing a license is generally faster and easier than the initial application process, but it’s also important to understand that your initial license may not be sufficient for the entirety of your business operation. For example, if you were to expand what drinks you offer or add an additional location, you would need to apply for additional licenses.

What Are the Age Verification Requirements in Kentucky?

Kentucky law prohibits anyone under the age of 21 from buying alcohol. This includes purchasing alcohol for someone else who is of legal drinking age, such as a teenager who says they are buying it for their parent and have no intention of drinking it themselves. However, there is no law that requires a business to verify the age of a customer by checking their ID.

In general, it’s always a good idea to verify that a customer is of legal age to purchase alcohol because there can be serious repercussions to your business, including losing your liquor license and even potentially facing criminal charges, if you sell alcohol to someone under the age of 21. If you are accused of selling alcohol to someone underage, you can show that you checked the person’s ID. If the customer used a fake ID, you can use this as a potential defense.

What Is Kentucky’s Three-Tier System?

The state of Kentucky takes a three-tier approach to legislation surrounding alcohol. This divides businesses into manufacturers, distributors, or retailers. Each tier is considered to operate independently, which is one reason there are so many different types of liquor licenses within the state. It can be confusing to determine which tier your business falls under, and it’s also possible to qualify for more than one tier.

A manufacturer is a business that actually produces alcoholic beverages. This includes distilleries, wineries, breweries, and the like. A distributor is a business that sells alcohol at wholesale prices, generally to retail businesses. Retailers are businesses that sell alcohol to customers for a profit.

What Should I Do If My Liquor License Is Being Threatened?

If you’re being accused of violating the rules surrounding your liquor license, you need to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. They can assess your situation to determine if a legitimate issue exists and help you understand your options for defending your license. Common situations spirit law attorneys deal with include serving underage customers, overserving, and having employees under the age of 20 serving alcohol.

If you have questions about the laws regarding liquor licenses or are facing the possibility of losing your license, call the Law Offices of Shannon C. Smith, PLLC, at 859-667-1204. You can schedule a meeting with a member of our team to ensure you understand what’s required to get and maintain your liquor license, and we can represent you if your liquor license is being threatened.